Jebbal Moussa

Located in the Kesrouan district northeast of Jounieh, Lebanon’s newest biosphere reserve was referred to by UNESCO in 2009 as ‘a true mosaic of ecological systems’.

Written by Paul Doyle

 

Today, the Association for the Protection of Jebal Moussa (APJM) has taken a few extra steps than the Romans in order to preserve the long-term sustainability of this region through its awareness and educational campaigns, research and field study programmes.

Located in the Kesrouan district northeast of Jounieh, Lebanon’s newest biosphere reserve was referred to by UNESCO in 2009 as ‘a true mosaic of ecological systems’, and achieved Important Bird Area (IBA) recognition in the same year. Jebal Moussa encompasses an area of some 6,500ha, extending 500m north beyond the Nahr Ibrahim River and a similar distance beyond the Nahr al-Dahab River in the south. The undulating and wild terrain in this reserve on the western slopes of the Mount Lebanon range varies in height from between 350m in the west to 1,700m in the east. This region has paid homage to the legend of Adonis and Astarte and stairways were constructed to aid passing legions during the Roman occupation. During the 18th century, Jebal Moussa’s cultural importance was supplemented by its economic significance in the silk industry, where the area’s mulberry trees provided sustenance for the silkworms which were transported to the market villages at the bottom of the mountain. In the 2nd century AD, the emperor Hadrian practised an early type of environmental management when he prohibited the felling of specific trees. Today, the Association for the Protection of Jebal Moussa (APJM) has taken a few extra steps than the Romans in order to preserve the long-term sustainability of this region through its awareness and educational campaigns, research and field study programmes. The area’s landscape of valleys, rivers and mountains are home to a variety of fauna including the hyena, the hyrax (the elephant’s nearest living relative), porcupines, squirrels, wild boar, wolves and over 80 species of native and migratory bird. Of the genus of flora, cyclamen, Calabrian pine, kermes oak, manna ash, storax, maple, orchid, peony and the Lebanon marjoram dot the countryside.

The undulating and wild terrain in this reserve on the western slopes of the Mount Lebanon range varies in height from between 350m in the west to 1,700m in the east.

As part of their environmental awareness programme, APJM operate a number of hiking trails of varying length and duration throughout the reserve with experienced and bilingual guides. They have a dedicated Ecotourism Officer (m 71 944 405), who can advise and arrange tours and visits. Alternatively, visit the APJM website below for further details on how to reach the reserve and hiking trail maps.

Association for the Protection of Jebal Moussa (APJM), Suite 205, 2nd Fl, Le Portail Bldg, Jouniehtel/f 09 643 464; m 71 944 405; e info@jabalmoussa.org; www.jabalmoussa.org; open: 09.00–17.00 daily for walking tours but the reserve is open for visits 24/7; admission: adults & children over 16 yrs LBP8,000, children under 16 yrs LBP4,000; a guide to accompany groups of hikers costs LBP50,000

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